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Man with no surviving family says ‘f*ck it,’ purchases tombstone with pre-selected death date
07:47 am



This is the ultimate “old dude says ‘fuck it’” story.

Weird Universe unearthed this newspaper story from 1949 concerning a 92-year-old farmer from Allegan, Michigan. The farmer, Leroy Irwin, had recently lost his wife and had no other surviving family members. He decided to have a tombstone carved for him and his wife, but he feared that having no survivors meant he needed to pay for the stone’s completion while he was still alive. Apparently thinking he wouldn’t live a whole lot longer, he went ahead and had “1950” carved onto the stone as the year of his death.

The Escanaba Daily Press - Apr 25, 1949
He was quoted in 1949 as saying “It don’t matter if I go sooner or live a few years longer, the stone’s finished.”

I love this codger’s attitude: If you want something done, you do it yourself. It might not be perfect, but at least it’s done, dadgummit.

It turns out Irwin was a tad optimistic, dying in November of 1949, seven weeks shy of 1950. But you know what? Fuck it, “the stone’s finished.”

The Escanaba Daily Press - Nov 14, 1949
Leroy Irwin’s grave (with the wrong date) still stands in Hudson Corners Cemetery.

Via: Weird Universe

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Sleazy City: Amazing pics of Times Square, back before they took all the porn away
12:03 pm



It’s well known that Times Square in Manhattan endured a massive facelift during the mayoral tenure of Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. Disney became an investor in the area, which soon became a touristic haven for Madame Tussaud’s and stores selling overpriced fare from Godiva’s, M&M’s, Quiksilver, and Lids. The main casualty of this process of turbo-gentrification were the charming porno houses that dotted the area in the 1970s and 1980s.

Maggie Hopp worked in the administration of Mayor John Lindsday in the late 1960s, but left to travel extensively (Colombia, Scotland, and India, among others) before returning to NYC to settle down and focus on getting work as a professional photographer. According to an interesting interview Hopp granted to Ragazine, she was fortunate, upon her return, to befriend a “deep-pocketed” mentor with some clout in the world of real estate who also had some instincts as a preservationist, and he encouraged her to get her realtor’s license. Together they isolated neighborhoods that were likely to undergo rapid change in the decades to come, and she went out and photographed every block of those areas in such a way that his interest in them as real estate properties wouldn’t become widely known.

He was, of course, more interested in determining which properties to buy, assemble and hold for long-term development, but I treated this pursuit as an opportunity to make a ‘photographic documentary art project’ and made a concentrated effort to find the best light, to be thorough, and to photograph every block and therefore to show which were the sites ripe for change and development ( e.g. parking lots, taxpayers, one story warehouses, etc.),  recognizing the inevitability of change and that my images were a way of preserving the city at least visually!

One of the more interesting pictures in this set is of the Terminal Bar, which was one of the city’s most notorious dive bars in the city for decades, located right across the street from the Port Authority. As Gothamist once wrote about the place, the neon signs of the bar represented “a false beacon of hope in a darker part of town.” It was featured in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. The Terminal Bar was originally an Irish bar but later became a predominantly African American and gay bar. It closed in 1982, just a couple years after these pictures were taken.

There isn’t a book dedicated to Hopp’s photographs of Times Square—at least not yet. However, her pictures are featured in Benjamin Chesluk’s 2007 book Money Jungle: Imagining the New Times Square.

Click on the pictures for a larger view:



More fantastic pictures of good old bad old Times Square after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Of Spiders, Pin-up girls and Silent Movie Mad Men: The Legacy of ‘Hollywood Imp’ Jack McDermott
10:30 am



Pin Up Model Betty Blue in front of the Spider Tile
There is something so delightfully decadent and downright pagan about Hollywood in the 1920’s. Maybe it was the heat and the transformation of desert wasteland to an arena of dreams and star making machines or perhaps the country’s overall shedding of prudish Victoriana morals and decor. Social and creative mores were pushed, at times, in the most delicious and evocative of ways. (As anyone who has studied pre-Hays Code films can probably assure you!) Sitting in the Hollywood Hills, like some pastiche Abbey of Thelema meets Silver Screen ambiance was the “Crazy House.”
Jack McDermott-Handsome Devil
“Crazy House” belonged to silent film writer/director Jack McDermott. McDermott was born in 1893 and originally from Green River, Wyoming, a mining town known for being one of the first in the country to ban door-to-door solicitation. When his family moved to Los Angeles in the protean days of filmmaking, it was kismet for an unrestrained soul like McDermott’s. Settling in the desert landscape like a holy burning bush as witnessed by a tribe of mescaline-dosed fops, McDermott’s reputation would soon grow legion. With directing credits dating back to at least 1916 and the last credited film of his being released in 1926, intriguingly titled The Love Thief, McDermott’s legacy in Hollywood mythos has become less solidified in silver nitrate and more in surreal antics and architectural wonderment.

Stories about McDermott the Hollywood Imp would soon circulate by the 1920’s. Gags such as giving guests a ride in his Model T in some of the rockier parts of the landscape, only to pull the steering wheel completely off and throw it out whenever his company started getting nervous, were just the tip of the iceberg. (McDermott’s car had foot controls installed that helped prevent certain auto-crash doom.) Driving shenanigans aside, it would ultimately be, as described in a 1927 issue of Picture-Play magazine as “The Strangest House in Hollywood,” that would make him a whispered name decades past his expiration date on this mortal plane.
Exterior of
Described by McDermott himself as his “crazy house,” what the structure lacked in modern cohesive design, it more than made up for with slackful ingenuity and a mega-ton of studio sets and props. Not just a few odds and ends here and there, but that the house itself was largely composed of set-pieces and what would now be viewed as Hollywood artifacts and relics.

The “Crazy House” featured rugs, furniture and walls straight off the sets of films like the 1924 Raoul Walsh actioner The Thief of Baghdad, a roof constructed from Lon Chaney Sr.‘s classic Phantom of the Opera, fencing from one of Rudolph Valentino’s last films, 1925’s The Eagle, among many others. McDermott even reportedly utilized the tombstones used in the 1923 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame to form part of a stone wall on the property.
More on Jack McDermott’s crazy house, after the jump…

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Trading cards: Professions for women of the future imagined in 1902
12:03 pm




French artist Albert Bergeret’s collection of trading cards from 1902 titled “Women of the Future” tries to imagines women’s jobs and professions of the modern era. I’d imagine back then these were quite inspirational to young girls and women. However, I do find some of the wardrobe choices quite suspect. Especially the scantily clad military-themed ones. They seem to be more for the boys.

A member of a light-infantry corps in the French army

Military-fencing Master


A doctor

A member of the Assemblée
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Nightclubbing’: A collection of photos of London’s New Romantics scene,  1979-1981
01:11 pm



Clare Thom, Boy George, Michele Clapton, 1980

It was about rebellion, creativity, originality, being yourself and having a damn good time doing it. ~ Graham Smith.

I always love photos from this era because it shows our modern day ding-dong hipsters they ain’t doing nothing new. Yeah, we’ve already been there and done that. And better, too. These images come from photographer’s Graham Smith’s lovely coffee table book of London clublife, We Can be Heroes: Punks, Poseurs, Peacocks and People of a Particular Persuasion. There’s over 320 pages of fashion eye candy from that time and place.

Everyone was a cog in this stylishly bizarre, wobbling wheel, rolling into uncharted territories. ~ Graham Smith

Stephen Linard and Michele Clapton on their way to see Spandau Ballet, 1980

Boy George (not Daniel Ash from Bauhaus) and Jeremy Healy, who was soon to form Haysi Fantazee, 1980

Chris Sullivan. The Blitz, 1980
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A collection of wild Minnesota mugshots from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s
05:15 pm



Before meth and crack hit the streets, people actually looked kind of cool in their mugshots. Almost everyone pictured in this collection is styled-out. They look like some ironic hipster fashion spread from Dazed & Confused magazine. HOWEVER, I did add a few that were head scratchers. Like the guy with a bandage covering his upper lip and another man with a bandage on his ear. I wouldn’t want to mess with those dudes so I placed them towards the end.

Sadly, the website that posted the photos didn’t say what the folks in the mugshots were arrested for. I’m dying to know!



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The first use of ‘hippie’ in newsprint makes hippies sound like boring, self-absorbed assholes
10:21 am



George and Pattie Harrison in Haight-Ashbury
The Haight-Ashbury story that always resonated with me the most came from George Harrison, who had visited San Francisco in 1967 with his wife to visit her sister. At some point they decided to take some acid and visit hippie ground zero, expecting a scene of artists and beauty, but finding instead what Harrison later described as “just a lot of bums, many of them who were just very young kids.” Everyone was burnt out and impoverished, and while a crowd initially followed him adoringly, they quickly turned hostile at his lack of engagement. The whole thing was enough to put him off acid and send him to intensive meditation.

There is a widely held impression of deferred dreams or abandoned idealism to the subculture, as if the kids were initially utopian visionaries who just got caught up in drug culture, but honestly… if one is to go by the contemporary media reports, it seemed like the whole hippie scene just kind of sucked from the get-go. Take the alleged first use of the word “hippie” in the mainstream press. The article below (from 1965) was the first in a series for the San Francisco Examiner—the “new bohemians” of San Francisco represented an emerging wave of youth culture, though not one that sounds in any way appealing or groundbreaking (mostly they sound like boring, detached slackers). Later, the series made a point to distinguish between hippies and artists, the latter of which wanted nothing to do with the former, preferring to sell their wares to professionals who had both the money and the interest.

A New Paradise For Beatniks
by Michael Fallon

Five untroubled young “hippies,” scrawled on floor mattresses and slouched in an armchair retrieved from a debris box flipped cigarette ashes at a seashell in their Waller Street flat and pondered their next move.

It was 5 in the evening. Dinner was not yet on the stove; the makings for dinner were nowhere in sight.

No one appeared worried, though. Or even interested.

The same apathy controlled the discussion of their next pad, a move forced on them by a police marijuana and drinking party raid the week before. “Maybe we’ll move to the Fillmore,” said Jeff, 21, the oldest. The proposal drew loud snickers and seemed doomed.

In all likelihood the hippies will drift—together, separately, or in new combinations—to other quarters in the Haight-Ashbury district.

Haight-Ashbury is the city’s new bohemian quarter for serious writers, painters and musicians, civil rights workers, crusaders for all kinds of causes, homosexuals, lesbians, marijuana users, young working couples of artistic bent, in the outer fringe of the bohemian fringe — the “hippies,” the “heads,” the beatniks.

It is, in short, “West Beach.”

By and large, the Establishment of Haight-Ashbury—longtime residents and businessmen—are not in the least disturbed by all this. They are optimistic about the future of the district, welcome “new blood,” and point to commercial growth.

Haight-Ashbury indeed seems to be experiencing a renaissance that will make it a richer, better neighborhood in which to live.


There, too, are hundreds of San Francisco State College students, in flight from Parkmerced and in close contact with the hip world, and more aloof delegations from the University of California Medical Center and the University of San Francisco.

They fit into a mosaic of races and nationalities unique in the city—Negroes, Filipinos, some Japanese, Russians, Czechs, Scandinavians, Armenians, Greeks, Germans, and Irish.

Newcomers and old-timers both are attracted to Haight-Ashbury by the low rents. A high-ceilinged, six-room apartment worth $250 a month or more elsewhere in San Francisco may be found there for $150 or even for as low as $85.

The neighborhood is sprucing itself up. Dozens of splendid pre-earthquake Victorian homes have been refurbished and acquired fresh paint. New businesses are moving in to cater to the new bohemians. Older shops are enlarging.

Yet there are troubles. The threat of urban renewal projects in adjoining districts, or in Haight-Ashbury itself, raises slum fears. “Planning” is not a kindly received word, by and large, among the 30,000 people live east of Stanyan Street, south of Fulton, west of Divisadero and north of 17th Street, Upper Terrace and Buena Vista Park.

The neighborhood’s problems had little importance in the flat at 1446 Waller St., where a visitor was cautioned by a four-year-old Negro girl playing on the front steps: “Don’t go in there. That’s the wrong door. That’s the beatnik door.”

In the previous week’s marijuana raid, police had jailed eight tenants and rounded up 14 suburban juveniles, nearly all neat and well-behaved.


The five survivors in the third floor flat said that the gathering had been a “rent party,” advertised in the hip world to raise — as effortlessly as possible — $100 for another month’s rent.

Like many hippies, they defended marijuana. “It’s not habit-forming, you know,” they said. “To equate it with smack (heroin) is wrong.”

Marijuana sells for about one dollar a stick (cigaret) or $15 an say [sic] it is easily obtained and far healthier than a few shots of whiskey.

Would the five consider taking jobs to raise bail for comrades unfairly incarcerated?

“It would be a lot of work.”

“They wouldn’t expect it of us.”

If they weren’t worried about their friends, or the next pad, or anything else, then how about dinner? Where was that next meal coming from?

“A lot of us have ‘straight’ friends. They bring us food.”

Without lifting a finger, hippies share, too, in this age of affluence. On the menu that evening was lasagna

(Tomorrow: Coffee-housing in the MTA)

After the jump, George Harrison discusses the Haight…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Padaung ‘giraffe women’ visit London, 1935
02:04 pm



Here are some fascinating images of Padaung (“copper neck”) women visiting London in 1935. From what I understand, “Padaung” is now considered an outdated term for this form of dress and Kayan is the preferred terminology in 2015.

There’s not much of a backstory to these images, the Kayan women were in London to be a part of a circus or sideshow which were hugely popular in the United Kingdom at the time:

Girls first start to wear rings when they are around 5 years old. Over the years the coil is replaced by a longer one and more turns are added. The weight of the brass pushes the collar bone down and compresses the rib cage. The neck itself is not lengthened; the appearance of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle. Many ideas regarding why the coils are worn have been suggested, often formed by visiting anthropologists, who have hypothesized that the rings protected women from becoming slaves by making them less attractive to other tribes. It has also been theorised that the coils originate from the desire to look more attractive by exaggerating sexual dimorphism, as women have more slender necks than men. It has also been suggested that the coils give the women resemblance to a dragon, an important figure in Kayan folklore.The coils might be meant to protect from tiger bites, perhaps literally, but probably symbolically.

Kayan women, when asked, acknowledge these ideas, and often say that their purpose for wearing the rings is cultural identity (one associated with beauty).

Sadly, the coil ring practice is gaining popularity again as, “it draws tourists who bring revenue to the tribe and to the local businessmen who run the villages and collect an entry fee of 250 baht per person.”



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The last known photographs of Jim Morrison in Paris, dated June 28, 1971
10:25 am

Pop Culture


Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971 at age 27. The official cause of death on his death certificate was “heart failure.” No autopsy was performed.

Here are the last known photographs of the lizard king taken on June 28, 1971 during a day trip to Saint-Leu-d’Esserent. Morrison is joined by Pamela Courson, and their friend, Alain Ronay. One might assume that Morrison was fat, bearded and bloated due to drugs and alcohol abuse at this point, but he looks trim, clean-shaven and relatively healthy here for a man about to expire.

Photos by Alain Ronay.




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Photos of Victorian women and their long-ass hair
01:24 pm



“Yo, Rapunzel!”

A lot of Victorian and Edwardian era women simply never cut their hair. Now I know this was considered very fashionable in those days, but I can’t imagine how much suffering went along with maintaining such manes. Your head, neck and shoulders would have to be in constant pain trying to hold the weight of all that hair! And think about this, what did they do to cool off during the extremely hot months of summer? I guess one could keep their hair wet all the time, but it would be a royal pain in the ass to have to comb it out and dry it. They didn’t even have blow dryers back then. No way!

This is exactly why the bob cut had to happen in the 1920s. Women couldn’t put up that shit anymore.




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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